Last week Mitsubishi Motors admitted to manipulating fuel economy test data, using methods that were non-compliant with Japanese standards. They were found to be cheating for the last 25 years. Concerns among investors on potential compensation costs and fines immediately made the dishonored Japanese automaker lose half of its market value.
When will they come clean?
This was not the first time. Back in 2002, the wheel on one of Mitsubishi Motors’ trailer-truck models came off and killed a pedestrian. The court found that, since the late 1970s, Mitsubishi Motors had been covering up many customer complaints of defects that should have been reported to transport authorities for recall instead of privately fixing the defects. At the end, the Mitsubishi Group bailed its subsidiary out to save the disgraced company from bankruptcy.
Last September, German automaker Volkswagen was reported using a defeat device in diesel engine vehicles sold in America that could improve the emission test results. The engines emitted nitrogen oxide pollutants up to 40 times above US standard. The emission test cheating incident resulted in Volkswagen posting its first quarterly loss for 15 years of €2.5 billion.
Once when I complained about a manufacturing fault in my German car, the expatriate manager took me aside and tried to bluff me into believing that the fault was the result of the way I clean my car and also the weather in Singapore. I was very sure that it was a design fault because owners of this car model talked about the same problem in the discussion forum.
He followed by offering me a ‘special discount’ to fix the problem which I knew was a rip-off. I also read online how they outsourced the job to a company to fix it and this company was charging a much lower fee.
The manager forgot the fact that, I may not be an auto expert, but I am not a fool. And nothing can be worse than having to face someone who goes on and on with his lies and standing there to wait patiently for him to finish his lies.
Consumers choose car brands based on factors like reputation, reliability and durability. Is it too much to ask for honesty and integrity from the manufacturers?
Lie to Me?
Taiwan comic book author Jimmy Liao’s (幾米) comic books are not written for young children. Only adults, and only adults who have a lot of understanding about life can get the messages behind his drawings and the captions. His books come with short sentences and simple pictures, yet those words and images are often very powerful.
Jimmy has a book Lie to me? (真的假的啊?) published in 2013. It is about what is real and what is fake from the author’s point of view. Below are some of the paradoxes from the book:
Vampires are fake. Living dead are real.
Politics are fake. Politicians are real.
True stories are fake. Fictitious events are real.
Happy hours are fake. Miserable world is real.
Set captive animals free is fake. Committed a sin is real.
Concern about others is fake. Care about ourselves is real.
Plans are fake. Changes are real.
Love is fake. Bread is real.
Value is fake. Price is real.
Valuation is fake. Property is real.
What is the truth behind every lie?
We are living in a world of lies. We are living in a world that even the chief of a country, the official in the government, the leader of the church, the head of the company, or the principal from the school can lie – and they can lie without batting an eye.
Warren Buffet once said, “Honesty is a very expensive gift. Do not expect it from cheap people”.
Lies are sweet. Realities are cruel. Is it that difficult to identify the genuine from the fake, to determine what’s real and what’s illusion, and to tell the truth behind every lie?
Here’s my list of paradoxes on lies and truth:
The commitment to save energy and the environment is a lie. A clever device to boost results of emission tests is the truth.
The promise to serve the people is a lie. The desire to win the election is the truth.
The corporate value to treat people as biggest asset is a lie. The company decision to downsize for survival is the truth.
The guarantee of good profits from high return investment schemes is a lie. The attractive mark-up and commission behind the schemes is the truth.
The approval of quick cash to achieve one’s dream is a lie. A debt to repay with high interest is the truth.
Dan Ariely disclosed the results of an interesting experiment in his book The Honest Truth About Dishonesty: How We Lie to Everyone – Especially Ourselves, “Who do you think cheated more, the politicians or the bankers? … the bankers cheated about twice as much.”
What are the lies behind uncompleted properties?
You may think that some are just white lies. Everyone tell white lies to avoid hurting others’ feelings anyway.
Nonetheless, there is also a saying that “The truth may hurt for a little while but a lie hurts forever.”
The question is: Are you brave enough to face the truth?
It advertises to be near to three MRT stations, but the actual site is near to none of them.
It claims to be a luxurious condominium, but it comes with poor quality of materials and finishes.
It appears to be a spacious layout in the showflat, but the bare unit just shrinks.
It positions to be a reputable developer, but the TOP units are full of defects.
It bets to be a unit with an open view, but the actual unit is blocked by something else.
It promises to be a project with high rental yield, but in reality the rent can’t even cover the mortgage.
Developers and marketing agents might say that these are all ‘beautiful misunderstandings’. But to buyers who bought their homes with hard-earned money, lies are lies no matter how you call them.
When will marketers really care about protecting consumer rights, give them their deserved dignity after making the purchase decision, and in return earn the long-lost reputation and trust from customers?